Home > Uncategorized > Turnover Plagues Charters… But is it a Bug or a Feature?

Turnover Plagues Charters… But is it a Bug or a Feature?

June 30, 2017

Earlier this week NYDaily News writer Alyssa Katz wrote an op ed article  explaining her decision to withdraw her daughter from an unnamed charter school. She offered the following rationale:

…the bottom line is that her elementary-school years were marked with a whirlwind of teachers that, if she and her classmates were lucky, would last the year and then move on.

The ritual became as certain as winter succeeded fall: Some parent would post on the school Facebook group that their child’s teacher was leaving mid-year. Moans and commiseration ensued.

Our child avoided that fate until last fall, when, two weeks in, her promising teacher — a veteran at three years served — suddenly vanished, and a substitute arrived much sooner than any explanation. Her class refound its footing, eventually, with a new teacher — but never quite recovered from those lost weeks.

With so many teachers coming and going, the school as a whole felt perpetually improvisational. I’ll always remember it as a flurry of photocopied handouts.

 And Ms. Katz has a theory to explain this turnover: the charter schools didn’t allow teachers to join unions and that, more than anything, led to the instability.

Among New York charter school teachers, 41% changed jobs last year — compared to just 18% of district school teachers. The retention gap between district and charter schools is not new, but it has been widening over time.

The big reason for charters’ turnover plague is plain as day: District school teachers are universally represented by teachers unions, and enjoy contracts whose ample benefits include generous pension plans, non-negotiable business hours and tenure.

So… teachers want better wages, hours, and working conditions… and some degree of job security. Unionized teachers have some assurances in those areas and when they find a good school district they stay on the job. But in a world where most employees– and voters– have none of the above, teachers are resented and budgets that fund teachers with decent wages, hours, and working conditions fail to pass…. and parents seek out charter schools that seemingly offer better opportunities for their children. In the meantime, the effective charter school teachers leave for affluent districts with decent hours, wages, and working conditions.

But, as a post yesterday indicates, most charters would sooner fire teachers seeking to unionize than consider offering decent wages and working conditions. Welcome to the plutocracy.
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